Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sari Ratu - Jakarta

Nasi Padang
This is how they stack em up, one on top of the other. More food than you can hope to eat in a sitting, but not to worry - you only eat and pay for what meets your fancy.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Street Food - Jakarta

Yard Bird and More,,,
While walking between my hotel and Merdeka Square I noted a narrow food alley that was packed with people. The next day I brought Pingles there for some lunch. An Indonesian colleague of hers told her to steer clear of the street food. "They use street water to cook in!" she'd warned. It threw me for a second, but only a second. I didn't fly all the way here to get scared off so easily.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Walnut Bakery and Cafe - Jakarta

I Went in to Get a Coffee....
I walked around for some time in downtown Jakarta in the grimy heat and strangely was craving a hot coffee. This classy-looking bakery/cafe had air conditioning to boot, so it was an easy sell for me. Plans changed once I saw this plate-full of good looking grub at a nearby table and asked for a plate for myself. This is Nasi Goreng Kampung a Malaysian dish which is sometimes known as "village fried rice."

This version had anchovies and mackerel and included a fried egg and two meatballs on a stick (sorry, don't know what those are called.) I downed this whole plate in less than 5 minutes and then sat back in my chair and people-watched out the window for an hour. Next up, some authentic Indonesian food.

Ciputra Mall

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ming Kee Live Seafood - Singapore

Crab Bee Hoon and More...
I don't make any decisions in Singapore, I am sloth-boyfriend, waiting for direction from Pingles on where to go, what to think, what to do, when to do it. This approach never fails me, especially today. Her cousin recommended this place for crab bee hoon, which is crab with rice vermicelli. You just gotta fight the crab for the bee hoon...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Harajuku Gyoza House - Tokyo

This is a well-known place in Tokyo for gyoza and I can see why. They focus on doing one thing and doing it well. Even at 11pm there was a queue to get in, but it was worth the wait.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Katsu I Chi - Tokyo

Deep Fried with a Vengeance
When you deep fry stuff, it's always better. Or so says my girlfriend. However, when you take the best ingredients and deep fry them with great care and attention you end up with something out of the ordinary.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Satou - Tokyo

Worth the Wait?
Whenever I'm traveling and see a long line of people, queued up waiting for food, I can take two different actions. If they're all tourists, I keep it moving. If they're locals, I get in line. Such was the case in Kichijoji, a neighborhood in western Tokyo. There was an epic line to navigate for the honor of buying these deep-fried meatballs with sweet onions.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ken's Sandwich - Tokyo

Katsu Sando or "Pork Cutlet Sandwich"
Something primal in me stirred when I saw a picture of this Tonkatsu sandwich. We were walking down the street in Kichijoji, a neighborhood in Tokyo known more for its shopping than its food. A gentleman was outside of Ken's Sandwich giving flyers to passersby. The flyer had just a picture of the sandwich and a bunch of Japanese - but the point was made to me, clearly. We kept shopping for a while but were destined to come back.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Andonand - Tokyo

Jetlag Antidote Donut
I was really feeling the old jetlag this morning but Pingles found me the cure - an affogatto donut from Andonand. They're owned by Mr. Donut but take it up a notch. Some kind of evil genius works here and comes up with ideas like pouring a hot espresso shot over a sugar-laden pastry.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ichiran - Tokyo

Kyushu-Style Cubicle Ramen
Fresh off our respective flights to Tokyo, we hit the ground running. First up, Pingle's favorite ramen spot in Shibuya. If this doesn't look good to you, you're crazy. It was the tastiest ramen I've had in some time. But the way you get the ramen is even crazier - something I've never seen before.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Robert et Louise - Paris

Meat & Potatoes a la Francaise
Firewood? Check. Metal cooking slab? Check. Chunks of meat? Check. It's as simple as that folks - no need to overcomplicate it. At Robert & Louise, they keep it simple. If you're coming to Paris for a short visit, I would put this place near the top of the list. Where else do they cook your meat in a wood-burning fireplace out in the open, for all to see? You can hear the sizzle, no matter where you sit and it gets you staring into the fireplace, wondering "is that one mine?"

Monday, December 14, 2009

Zen Zoo - Paris

Black Pearls - Also Known as Bubbles
I've tried bubble tea a few times in NY and I usually just kinda like it. It never really knocks me off my feet. However, I keep trying, most recently yesterday at Zen Zoo. I really went all out, ordering a hot almond-flavored version. I didn't even know you could get hot bubble tea, I'd only tried cold ones. Thank goodness you can, it's been really cold lately. This is the "after" shot.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Carl Marletti - Paris

Top Notch Treats, White Glove Service
There are a lot of good things about Paris, but service isn't at the top of the list. So it was really amazing to experience the attentiveness at Carl Marletti. I felt like I'd walked into Louis Vuitton, not a patisserie. I was dealing with those drilled in the art of the customer experience - like I'd stepped out of Paris and into Tokyo.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Topoly - Paris

Man'ouché - Otherwise Known as Lebanese Pizza?
This food blogging hobby is pretty fun. I've been doing it a while now, picking places to eat that interest me or the Puffin. Readers have started to make suggestions too, which is cool because I'm introduced to food I never would've found otherwise. Topoly is a case in point. It's a Lebanese restaurant in the 6th, suggested by commenter Hamster, who convinced me to get a Man'ouché (man-ooo-shay), which appears to be their specialty.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Café des Anges - Paris

I Was Just About to Crown Them...
Sure, it's silly to gush about a Croque Madame in Paris, I realize that. It's like going to NY and taking photos of fries and getting excited. After all, it's just an open-faced ham and melted cheese sandwich with an over easy egg on top. However, a few days back I stumbled into a superb one. So absolutely terrific that I crowed about it to Pingles and told her I planned to go back as soon as possible. Today was the day. It didn't quite work out as expected though....

Saturday, December 5, 2009

L'Oisive Thé - Paris

A Better Scone than Rose Bakery?
I wasn't looking to replace my favorite scone in Paris, honest, I wasn't. Before writing this post I even went back to Rose to make sure - and I am - Rose's scone is no longer number one. This L'Oisive Thé cranberry scone is moister, tastier and has that "hard to eat because it was falling apart" tenderness.

Cul de Poule - Paris

The Only Ass Was Me...
Cul de Poule roughly translates to "Chicken's Ass" and I sure felt like one after eating here. Given all the hype and good reviews this place has received, I was really looking forward to trying it out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ben and Jacks - Manhattan

Solitary Steak Ain't a Good Sign
In the go-go days of NY, you never would have found yourself alone in a steakhouse during Friday lunch. After a long wait to be seated, it would have been elbow to elbow combat and deafening table chatter. Fast forward to now: Ben and Jack's new location on Madison Ave between 28th and 29th. Same delicious steak you get from any good steakhouse minus the crowd. Matter of fact, it's downright scary how empty the place was.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spot - Manhattan

Checking Out the New Dessert Spot
It's not every week that a "dessert guru" opens his new dessert bar while I'm in NY. Pichet Ong, of Batch and P'ong fame, opened up Spot to offer NYers a SE Asian take on dessert. I just happen to have a SE Asian girlfriend, so I was excited and worried at the same time. She's a tough cookie, pun intended....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Motorino - Manhattan

It Does Impress
As much hype as this pizza spot gets, I was surprised that it lived up to it. A few bites into the Soppressata Piccante I was unsure - until I hit one of the slices of salami. That's when it all came together - the airy, nicely burnt crust, the visible slices of garlic, the oregano....

Monday, November 16, 2009

Corossol - Paris

West Indian "Called Out to Me"
The Puffin is famous for her food selection routine. She checks out a place and if it "calls out to her", she'll eat there. Every now and then, her routine fails. We'd been right next to Corossol - at Chez Taeko - so many times, but she'd never shown the slightest interest. I knew better - if this place were half as good as any decent West Indian place in Brooklyn then it was going to be a find. I'm a real man, so I put my foot down and told her "you'll eat here and you'll like it, period." Yeah, ok, something more like "let's try it out sweetie-pie."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stuart Friendly - Paris

What the Hell Does Hetero-Friendly Mean?
On a recent Sunday, the old lady and I were wandering in the 2nd near rue Montorgueil looking for a brunch. I'm never sure where we'll end up - we each sniff out places in peculiar ways. She looks em over, sometimes reads the menus and otherwise waits for a place to "call out to her." I favor places that are a bit different so when I noticed a sign in the window of Stuart Friendly that read "we're the premiere hetero-friendly restaurant in Paris", it was a lock. This hetero was hungry, friendly or not.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Au Duc de Montmorency - Paris

The Coolest Little Spot in the 3rd
Eating lunch here is like spending time with a friend in his kitchen. If I ever open my own restaurant, I would fashion it after this place. I settled on a lentil, chicken and sausage stew with rice and veggies.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rice and Fish - Paris: CLOSED

Cali Sushi in the Second
October 2010 Update: this place has changed to Rice and Beans, a Mexican eatery run by the same crew but now serving tacos, burritos, etc.

Original Post
Globalization to the 2nd degree: a New Yorker and his Singapore girl got hungry in Paris and went to the sushi place run by the guy from San Fran. This isn't classic Japanese sushi but the California variety - note the stray rice grains. I tried something named OVNI: crab, tempura prawns, avocado and egg. These came together nicely when dipped in wasabi soy sauce.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jean-Paul Hevin - Paris

Heaven's Got a Steep Cover Charge...
If you're ever shopping on rue St. Honore, make this your final visit. It ain't cheap by any means, so consider it a splurge. Jean-Paul Hevin is a master chocolate-maker who slings his creations in Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong. I'd been a few times to buy chocolate and macarons but this time I took the old lady upstairs for "tea." I mean, ok, they serve tea - but who cares about that, as I climbed the stairs to the tearoom I was humming the song "me and my sweet tooth."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Noctudine - Paris

A Real Winner for Lunch
Rarely in Paris do you find the combination of good, quick food, good service and free wifi. One striking exception is Noctudine, a small cafe that offers all of this seamlessly. I've eaten lunch there a few times and simply love the place. Below is my risotto with lardons. Other times I've tried one of the pre-made sandwiches, which they'll hot press for you until toasty warm. A variety of hot meals, salads and desserts are on offer.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jean Millet - Paris

Firing on All Cylinders
We rarely cross from the right to left bank for eats. Not because we don't think there isn't good stuff over there, we're just kinda lazy. We made an exception to go check out Jean Millet, a patisserie in the 7th. Puffin saw it once while riding a Velib and made a mental note. We jumped the 69 bus for the short ride over. As soon as I walked in I had good vibes. Everything looked good. I ordered a Mont Blanc (chestnut cream cake) which was sweetly smooth and came with a section of chocolate picket fence stuck in its cranium.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Kunitoraya - Paris

Getting Our Udon On
I've been to Japan just once but I fondly remember the various noodles I had there. Udon are great - they're as thick as a shoelace and when you suck em up fast you can spray nearby diners. Luckily I got myself a dainty noodle eater who sups without agression. I'm happy to report I escaped broth-free.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Street Meat - Prague

Now, That's a Dog!
Pingles had to hold it with two hands. We shared one, loaded it up with onions and mustard and some ketchup for her half. This Klobasy, like a Czech version of kielbasa, was charred nicely and had a good, spicy kick to it. The first bite was perfect - a crunchy casing that finally gave way to a juicy burst of meat.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Apostila Caffe - Prague

All I Wanted Was a Coffee and a Chair....
We walked all around Prague, hrs and hrs and hrs. At a certain point I simply wanted to sit down and have a coffee and relax. But you know how that goes - Puffin asks for the menu and looks over at me. "They've got a traditional Czech fruit pie with forest fruits and sorbet!!" Come on, I don't even know what a forest fruit is! I was glad she ordered it when it arrived. It was more like a cake, with apples and nuts. It was neighbored by a puddle of hot fruit compote and raspberry sherbet. Very nice combo.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Trdelnik Stall - Prague

Wooden Stake and a Fire...
We're on a short vacation in Prague and as always, our eyes are peeled for street food. As luck would have it for me, one of the first stalls we encountered was making a pastry called Trdelnik. It quite literally is dough on a wooden stake, roasted on an open flame and then sugared and spiced. It tasted like a snickerdoodle. Not too bad, not overwhelmingly good.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lebotti - Paris

Italian in the Marché des Enfants Rouges
The idea of sitting outside for lunch on a cold Paris day wasn't exactly appealing. It helped that we were inside a covered market, but not a whole lot (read more on the market, here.) Luckily, Lebotti, the market's Italian traiteur, grouped a bunch of tables near some heat lamps and cocooned them in plastic. It was a tight arrangement - hip to hip and elbow to elbow but everyone seemed to be happy to be warm. Pingles ordered the lasagna and it wasn't bad at all. It was light on the sauce and heavier on the meat - my personal preference.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mariage Freres - Paris

Poker Face? No Way....
As Pingles and I waited in a long line at the venerable Parisian tea house I had a bad feeling. I've been to far too many places that, after building a rep, coast lazily on it. The international tourist mix of those on line with us didn't offer much hope. I expected to be disappointed - these "must go" places tend to be the opposite. To my surprise, it was Pingles who seemed to have a greater let down. The first clue was how hot it was once we were seated. I decided not to order tea as a result - and this is a tea house! Pingles dealt with the heat by ordering a selection of sorbets with her pot of tea. After a few bites, she went into arm-folded mode. I tried all three and I honestly cannot tell you what they were supposed to be. Pumpkin seed dirt? Sidewalk gum heel? Embarrasingly bad. The tea was good but the mood was set and it wasn't going to recover.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tartes Kluger - Paris

Just One Choice: Savory or Sweet
Of if you're smart like us, get one of each and share. Pingles asked for the ham, bacon and parmesan tarte, which came with a side of salad.

Monday, October 5, 2009

La Bague de Kenza - Paris

Tea and Cookies, Anyone?
Not just regular old tea and cookies but the North African sort for a change of pace. One foot inside La Bague de Kenza this is what you see - a tidal wave of unfamiliar sweets and cookies (unfamiliar to me at least.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Banh Mi - Paris

New Banh Mi Shop Opens in Lil Wenzhou
I love banh mi, Puffin - I cannot seem to get enough of it. It's cheap, quick, fresh, spicy and delicious. This new shop is genius - it's simply named after the sandwich! It opened this week, within 50 feet of my front door in Lil Wenzhou. That's what I call the small area near Arts & Metier which is chock full of Chinese restaurants and shops, many opened by immigrants from Wenzhou, China.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Huré - Paris

The Rich Get Richer...
Some blocks in Paris barely have anywhere to eat, others have a place sprinkled here and there. Then there is rue Rambuteau - specifically, the two blocks between rue Beaubourg and rue des Archives. It's ridiculous: 3 green grocers, 3-4 brasseries, two Chinese restaurants, a Greek traiteur, two butchers, a creperie, an Italian restaurant, a fish monger, and the patisseries Pain de Sucre, Pralus, Berko Bakery as well as an outlet of LeGay Choc and probably 3-4 more things I'm forgetting. Now, out of nowhere, a brand new patisserie called Huré.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Djakarta Bali - Paris

She Was So Pretty, With Ribbons in Her Hair...
I spend a lot of time wandering the streets of Paris, it's one of my favorite things to do. On Saturday I was meandering near Les Halles when I saw her. She was stunning. Gorgeous. I crossed the street for a closer look. She was unlike the French ones - dressed in Indonesian finery and exotically perfumed. My throat tightened slightly. It was the hope from searching a long time for something and finally finding it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Le Mirage - Paris

You Say Lactose, I Say Intolerant
When your body rejects dairy, there's nothing so stubborn or rebellious as four cheese pizza. It's self-hate, quatre fois! I'm still on a anti-French food kick deep in the middle of Paris, which can set you searching far and wide during lunch. Luckily, Le Mirage is an Italian spot about 10 minutes walk from the job that serves pasta and pizza.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Paris Hanoi - Paris

We're On a Vietnamese Kick These Days.....
Hey, what do you want from me? I'm tired of French food at the moment so I'm looking for other things. When I learned of a nearby Vietnamese restaurant I talked a somewhat reluctant colleague into joining me for lunch. I couldn't resist when I saw Banh Cuon on the menu. It was ok, but since I was mentally comparing it to this, there was little chance for it to stand out.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gérard Mulot - Paris

Surprise, Surprise.....
You probably already know about the incredible cakes at Gérard Mulot. They stand at attention in the window like a small army - polished and attentive.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Saigon Sandwich - Paris

Cheap, Fast, Spicy! Are We in Paris??
Kinda tired of French cuisine at the moment so I was looking for a spicy jolt out of the doldrums. I'd read some nice things about this banh mi spot in Belleville called Saigon Sandwich (not to be confused with Paris Sandwich in NY's Chinatown) and went to try it for lunch. Belleville's not exactly around the corner from where I work, but thanks to my employer's generous two hour lunch rule (ok, I actually made up the rule) I had plenty of time to jump two trains to check it out.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rose Bakery - Paris

Waiting for Pancakes.....
I'm back in Paris after a few weeks in SE Asia and have slammed on the brakes to slow to Paris pace. It ain't so easy to do, things can be agonizingly slow here. I'm all for the slow food movement, but not when the slowness is a 40 minute wait for pancakes. Rose Bakery opened a branch close to my apartment in the 3rd and I go there from time to time for breakfast. Pingle is a huge fan of the pancakes so I ordered some because I was missing her. That's when I opened up my International Herald Tribune and began to read. When I got to about page 10 I heard someone at a nearby table asking what happened to their pancake order.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Baba Charlie's - Malacca, Malaysia

Lesser Men Just Use Their Garage to Store Their Cars
Day two of our Malacca food tour we headed to an out of the way spot for some Nyonya Kueh, which can best described as bite-size treats. I mean "out-of-the-way" literally, as in down a dusty side street in a residential area, far from town.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bukit China Stalls - Malacca, Malaysia

The Mee Goreng Steals the Show
On our foodie road trip from Singapore to Melaka, Malaysia we made our first stop at Bukit China, just outside Malacca town. The word Bukit means hill in Malay, so literally we were stopping at the Chinese Hill, the bottom of which has some food stalls that sell various types of noodles. Pingle had been here before and was returning for the mee rebus, a boiled egg-noodle dish served with a gravy made from curry powder, potatoes, soy beans, dried shrimps and peanuts. Some boiled egg and sprouts were thrown into this version for good measure.

Friday, August 14, 2009

La Place Cafe - Hanoi

A Different Kind of Juice Place
We tried the street juice in the morning and turned in a different direction later in the day. La Place cafe had air conditioning and even colder juices, hard for the street sellers to beat when it's close to 100 degrees.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Juice Sellers - Hanoi

Vietnamese Juice With a Smile
Forgive me, this is likely to be the least informative post I've ever done. I don't know the name of this place, the address or what juice I drank. It's hard to find certain things out here in Hanoi if you don't speak Vietnamese. Puffin is good at jumping into stuff and pointing, but not the local language. And me? Well, I'm practically useless. All I know is we were thirsty, it was like 100 degrees and the mom and daughter of this juice shop looked very friendly. Pingle pointed at a juice and they invited her in to sit on one of the small seats against the wall.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Banh Cuon Nong - Hanoi

Diving Into the Street Food Scene
You know how someone you love makes you better? That's Puffin. I do stuff with her that I wouldn't do by myself. Case in point - we were walking around Hanoi last night looking for food and she saw a street vendor making something unknown. Check it out. After she watched, Puffin said "that stuff looks good, come on."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hidden Cafe - Hanoi

Half the Fun is the Climb Up
I will explain what the means shortly. Café Pho Co (Hidden Cafe) has some interesting coffees - this is Egg Milk Coffee. Yes, a coffee with a thick foam of egg and milk on the top. Puffin says it looked like brain, but it was actually quite nice. Thick rich coffee at the bottom with an extra-rich foam that tasted like heavy cream to me. Puffin said it was too "eggy" but I disagree.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Moca Cafe - Hanoi

Warming Up with Something Easy
Puffin and I arrived in Hanoi this afternoon and were starving. We looked for something quick, easy and undaring (more adventurous eating to come.) We were in luck because the Moca Cafe was right across the street from our hotel. She got the beef noodles which were studded with greens, red peppers and mushrooms. (Shhhhh, don't tell her Dad, the practicing Buddhist vegetarion.) She described them as "not bad", which in a Singaporean way means she will eat it but won't necessarily list it for her girlfriends, who arrive a month from now on their own trip.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Chez Xu - Paris

The Many Benefits of Dating a Mandarin Speaker
I probably wouldn't have gone into Chez Xu (pronounced Shay Shee) for breakfast without my mandarin-speaking girlfriend. That's not to say they don't speak French in Chez Xu - I don't know if they do or don't - it was all Mandarin from the moment we stepped in. Works for me - I got to lay back for once (I do all the ordering in French, which can get exhausting if your French is as bad as mine.) Now, that of course means I have to eat whatever she orders, but she generally has good taste. If you've never had a Chinese breakfast then you must try it with an open mind - they eat rice, noodles and things a Westerner doesn't usually associate with his morning meal. First up, Luo Mi Fan - otherwise known as glutinous rice. This version, I think, had some ground pork and chives added to the sticky rice. I was surprised how much I liked this.